How chefs in Singapore celebrate Christmas after the last diner has left

Crisp duck confit by Chef Stephan Zoisl, owner of Chef's Table.
Crisp duck confit by Chef Stephan Zoisl, owner of Chef's Table.PHOTO: CHEF'S TABLE

After the last dinner guest has left, how do chefs celebrate?

SINGAPORE (BUSINESS TIMES) - 

STEPHAN ZOISL

Chef-owner, Chef's Table by Chef Stephan Zoisl

"This year, I decided that I only want to allow people to dine at the restaurant on Christmas Eve if they are booking the entire space. Because Christmas is about family so I feel having small individual groups is not the best way to go. If it doesn't get booked however, then we will hold our own celebration - have the staff and their families over, set up a long table, and prepare a feast. Then since I'm off this Christmas (because it's a Sunday), I'll probably do brunch at home with my wife and two kids. Or to make things easier we might go out instead."

STEPHANE ISTEL

Chef-owner, Bar-Roque Bar & Grill

"The restaurant is closed on Christmas Day, but I will still be working. In Alsace, I didn't grow up with presents as a major part of the Christmas tradition. It's always about food, food and more food. My mom would always cook frog legs, oysters, and foie gras, so together with my friends (most of whom are chefs), we try to recreate this to an extent. So on 26th this year, we will have lots of that, plus Yellow French chicken and venison. In Singapore, it's about enjoying the best produce with friends and family, with very good bottles of wine."

HAN LIGUANG

Chef-owner, Labyrinth

"Before I had Labyrinth, I would celebrate Christmas with my family with ham, turkey and mince pies at home. But now, it is difficult to celebrate with the family as I have to attend to dinner service. As the restaurant is not opened for lunch on public holidays, my team and I take this time to have our staff party. Sometimes, we will order in or we'll buy some ingredients and cook at the restaurant. Last year, we had turkey, ham, sausages and yue guang hor fun, or fried kway teow with a raw egg on top. We might just do the same this year."

CARLO MARENGONI

Chef de cuisine, The Lighthouse Restaurant & Rooftop Bar

"After dinner service, I'll try and make it to midnight mass at Christ the King Catholic Church with my wife and in-laws. When we come home, we have something light like panettone and a glass of Franciacorta in keeping with the season. Nothing too heavy, because I'm up early the next day prepping for a big festive feast.

Growing up in Bergamo, there was always the ritual of cooking a large capon and making a consommé from its spare parts. The whole family comes together to bond over cutting, stuffing and folding tortellini, which then gets boiled in the capon broth for tortellini in brodo.

There are different fillings representative of each region, and in my hometown, we enjoy a mix of mortadella, salami, egg and Parmesan. I make a similar dish for Christmas at The Lighthouse with cheese, which is lighter, but just as delicious."

 

 

ANTONIO OVIEDO

Executive chef, UNA

"Christmas Day is a familial day for me; the time to enjoy a feast with my brothers, parents and close relatives, which always end in laughs and jokes until late in the night. Good childhood memories come to me, helping in the kitchen, with exciting Christmas products, selecting the dusty wines from our cellar, and eating the mesmerising dishes from my mother.

But since I became a chef, I spend most of my Christmas working in the kitchen. And after a long working day, your workmates become your family. I have great memories as well, celebrating with my team and another chef friend of mine after finish a very busy Christmas Eve service.

When dinner service ends, I will have supper with the team, accompanied with wines of course. After that, I will hang out with friends and my loved one in a club or a bar, to celebrate with drinks and dance the entire night away.

Everyone loves to party, especially chefs."

PATRICK TAN

Chef-owner, Tamashii Robataya and Boruto

"Christmas Eve will be a rowdy affair, as there will be a party for all my staff from both restaurants. The party will be at Boruto, and we will start with a secret Santa gift exchange followed by food and drinks.

This year, the Tamashii kitchen is in charge of the sashimi and sushi, while the Buroto kitchen will provide a roast chicken, roast pork shoulder and beef ribs. Of course, there will be plenty of beer, sake and wine.

The staff are encourage to bring their family and partners along for this party. We will also do a countdown to Christmas with diners who are still in the restaurant."

DANIEL CHAVEZ

Chef-owner, OLA Cocina Del Mar

"We're open for dinner, but after dinner service we're going to have a staff party. We'll do Secret Santa, make a meal, and drink. And other chefs come to join us. Usually this will end around one or two in the morning, then we clean up and go home. Very seldom do I celebrate with my family since I'm not a father, and I'm not even married. We as a team don't have much time to be together, so Christmas is when we do that. Especially since we have staff from different countries who might be alone in Singapore - it's good that they aren't alone on Christmas.

MARCO GUCCIO

Head chef, Zafferano

"After Christmas Eve dinner service, I would usually celebrate Christmas with my friends and girlfriend. Due to the nature of our business, we have our staff Christmas party a week before Christmas.

Since working in Singapore, a typical tradition I would practise is to have a supper gathering with sparkling wine and exchanging of Christmas gifts. I would also bring along the Italian traditional dessert, panettone, to be shared among my friends."

BRANDON FOO

Head chef, Le Bistrot du Sommelier

"We usually close on Sundays but because of Christmas, we're open for two hours for takeaway collections this year. In the previous years, I celebrate with my staff by having a quick Christmas lunch on the day itself, usually just an hour during our split-shift. After dinner, I go straight home and rest because I'd be too tired from service. This Christmas I'll be at the restaurant prepping from 6am, and I'll leave after 1pm to go join my friends for dinner and gift exchange. I'll cook a turkey and a slab of beef in the restaurant beforehand and bring it along with me."

YONG BING NGEN

Chef-owner, Majestic Restaurant

"My family celebrates in advance, partly because I don't enjoy going out and squeezing with people on Christmas Day itself. Sure the atmosphere is not as good, but to me, as long as the family is together, timing doesn't really matter. This year we celebrated a few weeks ago by going out for black pepper crab, because it's the only dish that my wife, my two kids, and myself, all won't object to eating. We also walked down Orchard Road to see the lights and put on Christmas hats and deer antlers at home - felt like Christmas to me!"